For manual drivers, your clutch is both friend and foe. It allows you to control when your vehicle shifts gears, unlike an automatic. Some drivers use this for fuel efficiency, making sure they are shifting to conserve energy. Other drivers use it for the opposite effect to jump gears and eek out a little more acceleration from the engine. A smooth and responsive clutch is necessary for either of these habits. When your clutch begins to fail, the loss of control could leave you literally stalled on the side of the road if you can’t get or keep your car in gear. Below are the most common signs of early clutch failure. If you experience any of these, you’ll want a factory-trained technician to give your vehicle a thorough inspection!
Soft Pedal: The earliest sign of poor clutch health is loss of pressure behind the pedal. If you find you’re not meeting much resistance when you press the clutch pedal, chances are it is also failing to be effective in shifting gears as well.
Losing Gears: If you find the clutch slipping more and more frequently, revving instead of accelerating, this could mean a significant loss in clutch performance.
Grinding Gears: When the clutch becomes less responsive, your instinct might be to force it and that’s when you can hear grinding and that’s a big red flag that you have a clutch issue.
Strange Noises: In fact, any new noises in a manual vehicle, can usually be traced back to the clutch. Not just grinding, but some vehicles can produce knocking or bumping noises as well.
Physical Shaking: It will be hard to ignore if your clutch is in such bad shape that shifting gears cause the whole vehicle to shake. You may feel it in the wheel, but the clutch pedal can also shake if the gears are in particularly bad shape.
Bad Smell: Because your clutch is essential to the engine, the engine that produces so much heat, when things go wrong, more often than not it will cause overheating in your engine. Any burning smells should be investigated immediately before they do considerable damage.
Manual drivers tend to have a more sensitive touch with their vehicles and are more attune when a problem does arise. Knowing the early signs of clutch failure means you can address the problem earlier and prevent a complete stall or worse when you least expect it!